We decided to take down the raised beds. We were both frustrated by the ongoing battle against the Trees of Heaven that kept growing up through everything. Chuck had put serious effort into getting the roots out of 2 or 3 of the beds last year. And it helped. But, it wasn’t a cure. And the asparagus couldn’t win.
So, Chuck sold the cinder blocks and we’re letting the grass grow in. Of course, this has been THE best year for the asparagus.
He put 2 100-gallon watering troughs in the part of the hazelnut ring where the bushes don’t grow, filled them with compost and planted salad in one and tomatoes in the other. The tomato varieties are ‘Cherokee Purple’, ‘Rutgers’ and ‘Golden (something)’. The yellow ones are cherry sized and ‘Rutgers’ is supposed to be sandwich sized.
I got another watering trough and transplanted the asparagus. Wrong time of year. I know. But, the cinder blocks were gone and the roots were exposed all around the edges. And they aren’t dead. There were even 4 edible stalks last week. So, I remain hopeful.
There has been snow in April the last 2 years. So, we’re holding back. There is a threat of near freezing/potential snow this weekend. It was 84ºF on Monday.
We have 6 types of tomatoes in the grow room/pantry/attic/3rd bedroom waiting until the end of April to go in the ground. There are Better Boys for sandwiches, Cherokee Purple for salads, Golden Jubilee and Hawaiian Pineapple yellow varieties for Chuck, Grape and Indigo Blue cherry sized varieties for both of us. (I don’t dislike the yellow ones. He’s just particularly fond of them.)
I have 4 jalapeno plants waiting, too. We’ll plant Brandywine okra, Delicata and Pattypan squash and Hamby pole beans directly into the raised beds.
The new Martha Washington asparagus is coming up nicely. I’m hoping for a nice crop next year when we can finally harvest from the raised bed.
We have taken apart the herb bed and used the blocks to edge the front flowerbed. We didn’t have enough blocks and Lowe’s isn’t carrying that style anymore. So, I filled in gaps with stones from the disassembled labyrinth. It needs mulch.
I am expanding the little planting area around the well. A circle has been requested. Cannas will be moved from the side of the house to that bed when I have the grass dug out.
Chuck has been removing the grass-laden mulch from the outer ring of the defunct labyrinth. When we take up the ineffectual weed barrier, it will be seeded with clover. When I finish tweaking the front, I’ll manage the second ring that we intend to use for herbs and flowers. I’ve already got resurrection lilies and foxgloves transplanted there.
We decided the dismantle the labyrinth because it was a pain in the ass to maintain and it almost never got any use. In the entire time it was here, I don’t think 25 people have walked it. But, we couldn’t just take up the rocks and let it go back to lawn because it has a hazelnut hedge around 2/3 of the outside.
Since there is going to be a circle in the middle of the back yard one way or the other, we decided to make it a bull’s-eye. The center will still be mulched and keep the benches. The first ring will get the herbs from the disassembled herb bed and whatever flowers I want that flourish in blistering sun like lilies, irises, foxgloves, crocosmia. I don’t know what else. The next ring will be low maintenance clover. And then, the hedge.
We decided that we really don’t need more hazelnuts, even though that means the circle of the hedge will be uneven. So, today, we added 5 new blueberry bushes. Like the hazelnuts, they will be naked in the winter. And we look forward to the fruit. (We’ve never had too many berries in life.)
We found one variety of blueberries at Lowe’s and 3 at Mebane Shrubbery. We already had one of those (Climax) by the fence. So, we have 3 Brightwells, a Powder Blue and a Tifblue.
It’s about to be Japanese Beetle season. I found this on FaceBook.
An addition from John Snippe: Add a tablespoon of soap to that (even use it to replace the oil, actually)… and it will work better with crushed fresh garlic. Oh, and add a teaspoon of cheyenne pepper… anti- snails/slugs and nibblers.
Yes. I am gloating a little bit. There is a little lettuce plant growing by the compost bucket in the middle of the bed, one growing in the bed by the wall and a couple growing on the ground outside the bed. We’ll be eating lettuce until we turn green.
Today, this bed holds the wild dogwood I transplanted from a friend’s yard, a rice paper bush, a cloned dogwood from the National Phenology Network, some bearded irises, some white dwarf crested irises, some Asiatic lilies, a couple of Eastern columbines, 4 varieties of hellebores/Lenten roses, a small patch of cranesbill, a Bigleaf magnolia, one tea bush, a bear’s breeches, a Daphne odora, 2 kinds of ivy, a Japanese maple, a red camellia, 5 mums and I sowed seeds for 2 heights of zinnias, portulaca and impatiens today.
The largest part of this year’s yard project is done. Grass is out; mulch is in. Tea bushes are transplanted. I hope moving hasn’t killed them. I need to get the cover weeds out of the older part of the bed so we can mulch there, too. We used a thick layer of mulch to kill the grass there and it was effective. But, that mulch has turned into dirt and needs refreshing.
I moved the Euonymus that I had planted in that bed to the back yard where the deer can’t get to it. It’s supposed to be a bush but, right now, it’s a stick because it was snacked on heavily last summer. But, it’s not dead as evidenced by the leaves popping out. So, I have hope.
Our Japanese maple was accidentally mutilated by some yard guys who were taking down dead chunks of the maple on the corner of our lot. After some consideration, I got a new tree. The mutilated one was in too much sun and looked like crap for most of the summer. So, we finished the job the yard guys started and put a new tree in the front Partial Shade bed.
I found parts of a man’s shoe and a patch of nails while I was digging the grass out. And I’m constantly amazed at the amount of quartz that grows in our ground.
I took a picture of the new asparagus bed. But, right now it’s just dirt.
The old bed has been swallowed up by honeysuckle and overshadowed by a mimosa tree. It was never as enthusiastic a producer as I had hoped. And when I finally looked up how to grow asparagus in NC clay instead of taking the advice of someone gardening in another part of the state, I learned that asparagus likes sandy soil that drains well. I had essentially planted it so that it would drown.
Lowe’s has Mary Washington crowns for sale, 5 in a box. I bought 5 boxes and returned 2. 15 crowns seem well spaced in the 40″ X 87″ bed. I put 2 bags of mushroom compost on top of them. Since the beds are raised, drainage isn’t going to be a problem.
Chuck planted lettuce in the 5″ x 6″ holes around the outside edge.
In 2013, Marty gave us some black raspberry canes. They have pretty much crowded out the wild blackberries that were growing at the edge of our treeline.
This year, I found yellow raspberries for sale at Lowe’s and I bought one.
I was digging up black raspberries to share with coworkers and mentioned that to my friend, Patti, who lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. She had just been given some thornless raspberries by a Garden Club friend. We arranged a trade. Hers came to her from Vermont. We assume they are red.
I am really hoping to have all 3 colors producing in a year or 2.
My Nanny (paternal grandmother) was a constant gardener. She canned or preserved anything she had enough of to put in a jar. When my uncle was situated with a yard big enough to plant in, he followed her example. His uncle, her brother, used to get bean seeds from a local general store to send to his nephew in Nashville, TN.
When Nanny died, we pulled out all the things she had put by and everybody got an equal portion. Except, she had taught me how to make pickles. So, I traded my pickles for quarts of beans. And had no more for 2 decades.
Four years ago, I called that general store to see if they still carried Hamby bean seeds. My uncle’s garden was gone as his dementia progressed and his uncle had been gone almost as long as his sister. And they do. They don’t usually sell the little hobby garden size package, but they sold me a quarter pound of seeds. They weren’t (maybe still aren’t) set up to take a credit card. So, they sent the seeds to me with a bill enclosed, trusting me to send a check back to them.
(Of course I did. Shut up.)
My dad, never a gardener, has been delighted with the flavor of his past, when I share.
Hambys are pole beans and have a fairly short production period. But, they put out like crazy for for the 3 or 4 weeks they do put out. They are a great, meaty bean and the seeds turn lavender when you cook them.
We have 4 tepees this year and this is our first harvest.